Germany: submarines on the rocks

Unlike the best whiskies, submarines must not be served on the rocks!

By mid-october it was reported in Germany (Kieler Nachriten, or Businessinsider quoting the German MOD) that, following a maritime incident, none of the 6 German Navy submarines was in a state of “mission readiness”. In other words those TKMS made modern U-boats, recently considered the best by Norway, were either in a dry dock or alongside, waiting for repairs. Probably a pure coincidence, at the same time the Greek Navy had none of its 10 TKMS submarines (4 U214 and 6 U209) in mission readiness!

It would be fair and simple truth to remind the ministers, politicians and taxpayers that to maintain permanently one submarine at sea, in state of readiness, a Navy must have 4 of them in its inventory; assuming no maritime incident!

How this ratio of 4 to 1?

From a simple look at the experience gained by the naval headquarters in major NATO Forces:

  • submarine normal life between 25 to 30 years,
  • out of it, roughly 45 % spent on regular maintenance and repair,
  • 20% on crew training,
  • out of the remaining 35% at sea, in the presumed case of a one week dived transit to reach the patrol area, operational readiness stands around 25%.

Any mismanagement in ship maintenance, due to lack of budget or technical flop, or any maritime misfortune will of course take the ratio down and keep the submarines in port.

Mrs Ursulla van der Leyen may sadly comment “this is obviously not a good situation”… She certainly knows whom to blame, and probably not only the TKMS shipyard in Kiel.


Photo credit : © Junge Freiheit, die Zeit. 

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